Bit of a ranty blog this one about understanding that your cervix should not be on a timer – what we need is for women to go back to basics birthing.
That Friedman’s Curve from the 1950’s has a lot to answer for and is outdated and inappropriate to be used in this day and age and I am aghast that some Obstetricians are still referring to it and putting women on a timer and under pressure and then claiming FAILURE TO PROGRESS (FTP).
Remember also that FTP stands for FEAR – TENSION – PAIN so if you are not relaxed, calm and doing your breathing then you are not going to be progressing.
Please do not allow your healthcare providers to convince you that your cervix should be dilating a centimetre an hour.
That is just nonsense – your cervix should not be on a timer.
Interestingly a review published in 2017 by the BJOG – an International Journal of Obstetricians & Gynaecologists stated:
“An expectation of a minimum cervical dilatation threshold of 1 cm/hour throughout the first stage of labour is unrealistic for most healthy nulliparous and parous women. Our findings call into question the universal application of clinical standards that are conceptually based on an expectation of linear labour progress in all women.”
Researcher Dr Sara Wickham suggests, some women may need to go further than the number 10 or be less than 10, and some may even experience what she describes as “cervical recoil” where the cervix actually reduces rather than progresses (in other words you might go from 6cm back to 4cm).
I have seen this happen in some of my own labouring clients, and this can occur when a woman has had her flow of hormones interrupted and she goes into that “fight or flight response” for instinctual safety. This could be where there has been a change of midwife, or a visit from the Obstetrician or just fearful thinking and doubting her body, which then causes her cervix to tighten again.
However, from personal experience as a doula I have also seen women go from being told they are “only” 1cm dilated to then be fully dilated and birthing their baby in less than an hour as well.
I keep drumming into women that you are all unique.
Your pregnancy is unique, your baby is unique and your birth is unique.
There is no text book that can cover all that uniqueness.
We can’t put a square peg in a round hole, and we can’t make everyone fit into the same mould.
Keep reminding yourself that it is NOT ABOUT THE CERVIX!
Starting asking the question of “WHERE IS BABY” and what are you doing to move baby down further into the pelvis, to put pressure against the cervix to promote dilation?
It really is that simple – yet it is a challenging and labouring part of birth.
If you are yet to birth make yourself an affirmation poster that says “WHERE IS BABY – FORGET ABOUT THE CERVIX” and this will be a good reminder for you, but also your healthcare providers as well.
If there is no progress you have to be asking yourself why and get onto those Three Sisters Spinning Babies techniques to open the pelvis.
These techniques include the rebozo around the lower back, hips and bottom, the forward leaning inversion and side lying release to release the joints and ligaments and create more room. It definitely won’t be comfortable doing some of these techniques during labour but this could be what helps you avoid a caesarean.
As a body worker I also encourage my clients to have massage before labour and during labour to release endorphins for pain relief and comfort, but also to loosen any tight muscles.
Get up and move around, do some lunging, squatting and twerking.
On the point of lunging I get all my clients doing this during a surge (contraction) while also doing the tummy lift as it helps to open the mid-pelvis, and this was again validated to me after doing the Spinning Babies Workshop with Ginny Phang-Davey.
Here is a link to the Spinning Babies website on lunging and the reasons why, and the correct way to do lunging so that it maximises the outcomes:
Like anything there are always going to be exceptions and deviations, but what we need all women to do is go back to basics birthing and do what feels right and good for them – not what is more convenient and easier for their health care providers.
You are only going to have the opportunity to birth this baby once – and only you know what you are prepared to do to have a normal, physiological birth but I do encourage you to do whatever you can to avoid interventions and caesarean – especially that first caesarean if you plan to have more children in the future.
My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a Childbirth Educator (Back to Basics Birthing), Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner, Certified VBAC Educator, Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in Pregnancy Massage, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Certified Placenta Encapsulator, Hypnotherapist, Aromatherapist, Reiki Practitioner and Life Coach. I am based in the northern suburbs of Perth and can be contacted by email by [email protected] or phone (08) 9303 9111.